On Saturday afternoon, November 13th, we went to the Free Stamp area in Willard Park to attend a rally on behalf of the Freedom to Vote Act which is, at the time of this writing, pending a vote in the United States Senate.
We did some research and learned that the bill’s focus is the creation of a national standard for how states conduct federal elections. It is, overall, intended to counter the wave of new laws restricting voting in certain states and ensure all U.S. citizens have equal access when it comes time to vote.
On this day, Ms. Lisa Rapazsky, respected community activist, kicked off the rally that included such speakers as former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner; Ms. Yvonka Hall, Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition; Lakewood City Councilperson Tristan Rader; former Cleveland City Councilperson Nelson Cintron; and Ms. Morgan Harper, candidate for U.S. Senate in 2022.
In addition, we were treated to speeches from people who were just elected to local offices just two weeks prior and these included Ms. Deborah Gray (Cleveland City Council Ward 4); Dr. Pat Blochowiak (East Cleveland City Council), Mr. Khalil Seren (Mayor of Cleveland Heights); Ms. Josie Moore and Reverend Anthony Mattox, Jr. (Cleveland Heights City Council).
Due to our participation in the event and through our research, we learned that the provisions in the Freedom to Vote Act include a required fifteen consecutive days of early voting prior to the election as well as safeguards regarding overly partisan gerrymandering.
We were very appreciative of Councilperson Rader for mentioning the need to protect the voting rights of people of different ethnicities who immigrated to the United States and have since become citizens.
Along these lines, when we visited with our friend Mr. Cintron, he told us of the challenges he once faced, as a councilperson, to ensure equal access to voting via having ballots available in Spanish as well as English.